While most of the nation celebrated with fireworks and barbecues this July 4th weekend, residents of some parts of Chicago were ducking nearly continuous gunfire as overwhelmed police struggled to respond to simultaneous shootings occurring all around them.
Just before the weekend began, the Chicago Police Department announced the good news that Chicago’s 172 murders in the first six months of 2014 represented the lowest number at midyear since 1963.
But from Thursday afternoon into the wee hours of Monday morning, 82 people were shot, 14 fatally, in dozens of shootings across the city, many on the South Side, the Chicago Tribune reports. The violence represents the deadliest period of gun violence Chicago has faced this year, where the murder rate is worse than many U.S. cities.
The shooting victims ranged from 14 to 66 years old, although most were in their late teens and 20s. The violence included several bursts of chaotic back-and-forth shootings over small periods throughout the weekend. Three were killed and 10 were wounded Thursday night to Friday morning; one was killed and 19 were wounded Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon; four were killed and 10 were wounded Friday night to Saturday morning; and four were killed and 26 were wounded, many critically, in just a 13-hour period from Sunday afternoon to early Monday morning.
Here are some of the devastating shootings that weekend, reported by the Tribune.
- Two women were shot while sitting outside their homes a block away from Garfield Park on Chicago’s West Side.
- Not far from there, a 21-year-old woman was killed hours later in an East Garfield Park shooting.
- Two men were killed in a shooting outside a West Englewood salon in Chicago’s South Side.
- A man who refused someone’s request to stop flashing gang signs was shot and killed in the city’s southwest side.
- In South Chicago Sunday night, a 25-year-old man and 19-year-old woman were shot while leaving a store. Two other people immediately opened fire on the shooter, leading to a running exchange of gunfire between them. The crossfire wounded a 48-year-old man sitting on his porch.
Police Sunday night faced a particularly tense situation amid simultaneous shootings in close proximity on the city’s South Side, which included the running gun fight following the shooting of the couple and an unrelated shooting unfolding a few blocks away. Here’s the Tribune’s reporting of that period:
A 10-1 — a call for an officer in distress — was broadcast across the city because the shots were so close to police. Officers from across the South Side responded, including tactical teams who had been ordered to wear their uniforms instead of plainclothes for the holiday weekend. Police were radioing about hearing gunfire all over the neighbourhood, and a district lieutenant ordered a perimeter over a three-block-by-four-block area.
More police responded with the aid of a helicopter and SWAT teams. Then, just outside the perimeter, police rushed to a house hit by gunfire, where gang members had congregated hours after a teen was shot nearby.
The police perimeter was lifted early Monday morning, around the same time as the weekend’s last fatal shooting — a 44-year-old woman killed elsewhere on the South Side while at a barbecue, reported CBS News.
Some of those shot were victims of stray bullets — a constant concern for residents of some parts of Chicago. “It’s as if we’re at war here,” Marsha Lee told the NPR radio program “All Things Considered” recently. Lee’s son was shot and killed in 2008 when he tried to stop a robbery, she said.
She still worries about three girls she helps care for, ages 6 to 9. “Now I have the added burden of trying to teach them how to protect themselves, hopefully, in case of stray bullets,” Lee said. “You have to get down low, get down on the ground, and stay on the ground until it’s over, and when it’s over you have to check yourself and check one another and see if anyone has been hit.”
Five of the weekend’s injured were shot by police in eight face-off incidents, including a 14-year-old fatally shot by officers after he allegedly pointed a gun at them, according to CBS. In another incident, a 16-year-old was killed by police after he allegedly refused to drop his gun while climbing out from underneath a car, where he had been hiding from officers.
Police believe many of the shootings were gang-related. Gang members are reluctant to surrender themselves or guns to police because of the punishment they will receive from their fellow gang members, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said at a press conference. “They get severe beatings. Sometimes its financial at the same time,” McCarthy told CBS. “Losing a gun is a big deal to these guys.”
Chicago police have seized 3,400 illegal weapons so far this year. “We will keep building on our strategy, putting more officers on the street in summer months, proactively intervening in gang conflicts,” Chicago police spokesman Martin Maloney told CBS. “Yet, even with the best police and the best policing strategy in the world, without better state and federal laws to keep guns off the streets and out of the hands of dangerous criminals, we’ll continue to face an uphill battle.”
Come Monday morning, police had not taken anyone into custody for any of the weekend’s shootings.
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